Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Glimpse at the Age of Aquarius

From the July/August issue of Archeology--unfortunately, only a portion of the article is online.

The idea is that one 60s-era commune in California is being restored, and the artifacts catalogued, by archeologists. Already this is somewhat of a lost civilization, and it may be of great interest in the future to study the daily lives of people in the counter-culture. One controversy is that public money is involved at a time when California is broke, etc.

But there are some items of interest already--including convenient memories. The article focusses on former resident Noelle Olompali-Burton, who has named herself partly after the commune. She moved there, I guess on her own, when she was 16, and she recalls "living the teenager's dream of having no rules laid on you." One detail is that this commune was actually able to last for a while (December 1967 to February 1969, when an electrical fire destroyed the house) because it was subsidized by a real estate developer who also had an inheritance.

Here's the part I found funny:

... Buz Rowell [is] a gray-bearded 65-year-oldwho has filled out a bit since moving to the commune as a skinny young man just returned from Vietnam. Not quite trusting his memory 40 years later, Rowell says the group was almost entirely vegetarian, "at least at the beginning." But Olompali-Burton quickly corrects him. "I recall cooking liver and onions in a huge skillet. And making sausages for breakfast, and meatloaf." In fact, Parkman's team has found about 30 pieces of butchered cow and pig bones.

Aging hippies want to convince today's progressives they were really with it, attuned to the times. "We were vegetarian." Er, no you weren't; you actually loved that mouth-watering meat. "We were feminists, celebrating equality and freedom from traditional roles." Actually, Noelle, who was a happy little teenaged girl, seems to remember doing a hell of a lot of the cooking. And how many communes, in their escape from law and order, were free from rape, sexual abuse and child abuse? Even Salon has shown concern about this.

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